How’s Your Love Life?


If I do all the religious stuff expected of a faithful Christian, and don’t love others I have failed. If I attend every church service, take communion every week, say my prayers daily, do my daily Bible reading, give more than 10% of my income, and am not a lover of men, I wasted my time. If I am respected in my community, good to my wife and kids and don’t care about the needy, I am lacking.

Even if I surpass the usual church member and become a skilled orator, and give great prophecies, understand all mysteries and have all knowledge, become a favorite on the lecture circuit, and become known as a man with great faith, I have accomplished nothing unless I am a lover. If persecution comes and I become a martyr for my faith, I have really done nothing unless I have loved along the way.

This is the bar set by Jesus, the fleshing out of the two greatest commandments, Love. It is pretty clear that loving God is more than being a model church member and being right about doctrine, giving more than others, and doing more than is expected by others. It is a very high standard indeed but is intended to be the “normal” Christian life.

Am I patient and kind?
Do I envy or boast?
Am I arrogant or rude?
Do I insist on my own way?
Am I irritable or resentful?
Do I rejoice at wrongdoing?
Or, do I rejoice with the truth?
Do I bear all things?
Do I always believe the best?
Do I hope all things work out for good?
Am I one who endures anything?


Does my wife think so?
God knows the truth.

If I, with God’s enabling, am able to become one who loves unconditionally I will not be a failure, ever. How am I doing? Ask those who know me best. I give myself perhaps a C+. God is at work in me though, both to will and to do His good pleasure. There is hope for me and there is hope for you.

Because the Spirit of Christ lives in us, who have been born again, we have the potential to be the person God wants us to be. Because He is in us the following should come out of us in our daily living.

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

The whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

How is your love life? The answer is not “try” harder, but rather “rely” harder.

Learning to love,

Royce

 

 

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Crazy Love


Today I finished reading “Crazy Love”by Francis Chan. If you want to stay comfortable just maintaining the status quo of your relationship to God I don’t recommend you read Crazy Love. If you are up for a challenge then by all means dive in.

How many times have you read the passage where Jesus instructed that if you “have done it to the least of these you have done it unto me”? And how many sermons and lessons have you heard and read on the same text? How many times have you considered that if you are not loving the unfortunate in tangible ways that you aren’t really loving God?

Is it possible that we have equated faithful attendence for worship and Sunday school, daily Bible reading, and giving with loving God? We can’t really pick and choose which of Christ’s commands we obey and still claim the religeous high ground, can we?

I warn you, Chan gets up front and personal in the bold way he presents the truth of what the Bible says about how we are to love God and others. It is a great book and will impact many hearts for the good of the cause of Christ.

Carol and I are at beautiful Lake DeGray in Arkansas, not far from Hot Springs with 49 other couple for a marriage retreat. This is our third time to attend a retreat in this location. The lakeside lodge is beautiful and the mood is positive and hopeful. Many couples have been challenged and blessed to have stronger, Christ centered marriages after having attended one of these weekends.

Our Dr. Joneal Kirby and her husband, elder Randy Kirby, one of our preachers and elder, Alan Robertson and wife Lisa, and elder Mac Owen and his wife Mary are wonderful teachers and role models for great marriages. We are so very blessed at White’s Ferry Rd Church with such a depth of talent and a host of great disciples who are sold out to Jesus. We are building families for time and eternity. Carol and I are blessed to call these great folks family.

 His peace,
Royce

Living to love, and Loving to Live


In Paul’s letters to the Galatians and in his first letter to the Corinthians his messages were to groups of Christians who were rife with problems. In the church in Corinth, you name it and they were guilty of it. Sexual immorality, divisions over favorite Apostolic leaders, law suits filed against each other, and even drunkenness and gluttony at fellowship meals, rudeness and selfishness in the worship assembly, and more, were the problems and character flaws of this group of immature believers whom Paul still called “saints”.

The believers in the region of Galatia had begun to abandon pure dependence on Christ alone for salvation in favor of circumcision. They were behaving as if under a witches spell. While in Corinth behaviour unbecoming followers of Jesus was glaring, the diluting of the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ was the greatest offence of the Galatian brothers. He carefully defended his apostleship and masterfully laid again the foundation of their standing in Christ.

In both situations Paul’s inspired pen rebuked and pleaded, warned and encouraged, while pointing them to Christ who is himself the standing of our faith and practice as believers. In Galations Paul wrote,

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:13,14)

Paul said to the Corinthians

 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.  If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

Then in v13 Paul sums up perhaps the most read chapter in all of his letters by saying,

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love”

Living to love, and Loving to live is both our mandate and mission. Love is our anchor and our attitude as we flesh out the Christ life, especially to those who are fellow followers of Jesus.

You might say “I have a Chistian duty to defend the faith once delivered to the saints, to teach sound doctrine!” Ok, but how’s your loving coming along? Are you clinging to hope, trusting that one day Christ will come and take you to himself? That is noble but how have you loved today?

Excellent theology and sound doctrine are commendable but they take a back seat to loving your brother. Being faithful in church attendence, saying all the right stuff, and doing all the right things are grand, but does the fellow who disagrees with you about some practice or doctrine feel the love?

If you are the most elequent speaker, know more about the Bible, are more wise than your peers, and give more generously, but are not a lover of those around you, you are nothing! You have the same utility in God’s kingdom as one ringing a cow bell in a symphony orchestra.

If you and I want to matter to Christ and his cause let our words be seasoned with salt and our manner marked with longsuffering and gentle kindness. Even if our enemies decide to say something about our ego driven lifestyle we should make them have to lie to do it. Ours is a call to live above the crowd and to those within and without to love them unconditionally with a pure heart and God’s help.

For love,

Royce